MU Researchers develop framework for domestic violence resources post-disaster

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COLUMBIA – In the aftermath of Harvey, researchers at MU want to ensure domestic violence resources are available for displaced victims. The study identifies a framework to promote women’s safety and well-being during and after natural disasters.

“The prevalence and severity of violence against women, those rates go up after a community has experienced a natural disaster,” said Jennifer First of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center (DCC).

Following the 1993 floods that affected parts of Jefferson City, the Missouri Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) began collecting data on women seeking shelter from intimate partner violence. Additional studies were released following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s often thought that the rates go up due to the amount of stressors people experience after disasters. Like housing stressors and financial stressors and these things often contribute to higher rates of intimate partner violence.”

The study released this week by First and the DCC expands on this data, adding specific tasks that emergency responders can take to ensure support and psychological recovery.

“These studies have called for something to be done, that’s where we wanted to come up with what are some best practices from disaster research and intimate partner research,” said First. “What are best practices that we could develop in a framework to provide to communities that are going through this.”

For example, emergency responders can provide security in certain shelters. 

The framework uses the four phases of emergency management – response, recovery, mitigation and preparedness – to highlight specifically how women can be integrated into disaster-related assistance and services.

However during the research process, First said that a lack of awareness and resources was most alarming.

“There have not been funds for victims of domestic violence after disaster,” First said. “We think that these types of services and resources should be thought of when we’re thinking of responding.”